Gov. Pat Quinn’s final prison closure completed Wednesday, as the last inmates were moved out of Dwight Correctional Center. Nearly 150 Dwight employees will fill holes at Pontiac Correctional Center 20 miles to the southwest.
The closure of both Dwight and Tamms Correctional Center effectively eliminated close to 1,200 prison beds in Illinois, as nearly 50,000 inmates are crammed into a system designed for fewer than 34,000.
The Department of Corrections plan was to then “temporarily” house hundreds of inmates inside the gymnasiums of six medium security facilities.
In addition to eliminating indoor recreational access for the entire facility where the dorm style gymnasium housing has been implemented, but it is coming at a high price for taxpayers.
IDOC Director S.A.. “Tony” Godinez has negotiated staffing with the union representing prison guards prior to inmates being housed in the gyms at six correctional facilities, including, graham, Vandalia, Illinois River, Shawnee, Danville, and Centralia correctional centers.
The agreement provides an additional two correctional officers per shift at each of the designated six facilities and adjusts the allocated headcount of each facility to reflect this additional staffing requirement.
At the average correctional officer pay scale, the gymnasium housing will cost Illinois taxpayers nearly $730,000 for just 90 days of staffing, excluding benefits.
It also does not include the cost of the bunks, mattresses, televisions, and new hot water heaters purchased to transform the gymnasiums into temporary housing facilities.
While IDOC initially indicated the gym housing would only be necessary for approximately 90 days, recent statements from the agency have stepped away from any timeline.
In other correctional news, a total of 18 inmates have been released as part of the newly implemented early release program.